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Galesburg woman pleads guilty but mentally ill in murder of 7-year-old daughter

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Jane Carlson
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Tri States Public Radio
Hazel Ivy, 30, of Galesburg, pleaded guilty but mentally ill on Thursday in Knox County in the murder of her 7-year-old daughter.

A Galesburg woman pleaded guilty but mentally ill in the murder of her 7-year-old daughter.

Ninth Circuit Judge Andrew Doyle accepted the plea for Hazel Ivy, now 30, on Thursday in Knox County court.

Knox County State’s Attorney Jeremy Karlin said the plea was conditioned on limiting Ivy’s sentence to 20 to 53 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections.

“My goal in this case was to obtain a conviction for first degree murder and see that Ivy spend the rest of her days in the Illinois Department of Corrections,” Karlin said.

Karlin said he believes the agreement reached in this case achieves that goal because any lengthy sentence will ensure Ivy dies in prison.

Police were notified of a potential homicide at the Cedar Creek public housing complex in the early morning hours of Jan. 24, 2021.

Officers located located the body of a deceased young girl, identified as Ivy’s daughter, Willow Banks, in an upstairs bedroom.

The child died of sharp force trauma and strangulation.

Ivy reportedly told investigators at the scene that she had “snapped.”

Previously, Karlin stated he would seek a natural life sentence for Ivy, in what he calls “the most gruesome crime” he has been involved with in his nearly 30-year-career.

“As I prepared for the trial, I began to see signs of significant trauma in those people connected to the case,” Karlin said.

He was also concerned about the effects on jurors after reviewing crime scene and autopsy photos that would be shown at a trial.

So he began working on a plea agreement that would obtain a certainty of conviction and obtain a lengthy sentence for Ivy, while not further traumatizing the people who have worked on the case.

Per the plea agreement, Ivy will serve 100 percent of whatever sentence is imposed.

While the court did find sufficient factual basis that Ivy was mentally ill at the time of Banks’ death, that will have no effect on the sentence, according to Karlin.

Ivy moved to Galesburg several months before the murder with two daughters, but did not have known ties to the community.

A psychiatric report for Ivy will be sealed, according to online court records.

A sentencing hearing is scheduled for Sept. 29.

Ivy remains in custody at the Knox County jail.

Tri States Public Radio produced this story.  TSPR relies on financial support from our readers and listeners in order to provide coverage of the issues that matter to west central Illinois, southeast Iowa, and northeast Missouri. As someone who values the content created by TSPR's news department please consider making a financial contribution.

Jane Carlson covers west central Illinois and southeast Iowa for Tri States Public Radio.